FLASHBACK: Why I’ll serve only one term – Buhari

Nigerian President,Muhammadu Buhari in a Presidential campaign rally in 2015
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari in a Presidential campaign rally in 2015

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declared his intention to seek re-election in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

The president made his plan known to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress.

The president said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019, adding that he wanted to give NEC the honour of notifying them first.

Meanwhile, in an interview he granted Sunday Trust four years before his victory, Mr Buhari said he would contest for only one term due to his old age.

Also, 20 days after his swearing-in, Mr Buhari made reference to the old age again, saying he would have loved being a president when he was at a younger age.

Born on December 17, 1942, Mr Buhari became the military governor of North-eastern state in 1975 at 33.

After a successful coup ousting the second republic government of Shehu Shagari, he became the Head of State in 1983, at the age of 40. He held this post until 1985.

Mr Buhari came back to the political scene in the 4th Republic when he sought to be a civilian president under the All Nigerian Peoples’ Party (ANPP). He lost the presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Mr Buhari, profiting from a merger of opposition parties, defeated his incumbent opponent, Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, to emerge president from then one-year old APC in 2015.

With his re-election intent now made public, Nigerians have questioned Mr Buhari for going against promises he made.

The president made the one-term announcement in an interview conducted by Theophilus Abbah of Sunday Trust newspaper where Mr Buhari stated he won’t seek re-election. It was published on February 6, 2011.

Below are Mr Buhari’s response to whether or not he would seek re-election.

You have been quoted as saying if you don’t win the election in 2011 you wouldn’t go to court?

Yes, I said that!

Even if you have evidence that you are rigged out?

Having been in court for 50 months between 2003 and 2008, if I’m rigged out again, I will not go to court. I will leave the party to deal with the case. The CPC can, but I, as the presidential candidate, I’ve made up my mind never to go to court again on that issue.

Is it because of the expenses involved?

There is the expenses, but look at what happened in 2007. The decision of the case split the Supreme Court in the middle. But look at what they came up with.

Why did you say you will do just one term, if elected?

I’m not getting younger. If I succeed and do one term, I will be 73 years old.

If you’re doing just one term, you may want to urgently do some things? What are they?

There are two issues and I have said it in one sentence. Security and power. This country has to be secured and managed. People in Nigeria must not go about fearing that they would be abducted. You must not be afraid to the point that you can’t drive from Kaduna to Kano any time of the day. If you are in Lagos, you should have jobs to the point that you can afford to have three shifts in a day. That is eight hours each. But people are now very scared wherever they are. People have built houses worth over a billion naira, but they are afraid to live in them. What is the use? So, security is number one.

Number two is structure. We have to revive the electricity sector so that people will have access to power to carry out their businesses. Others include the roads, the railways, the shipping lines. We used to have all these things. In spite of what we earned in the last eleven years, the whole infrastructure has already collapsed.

STILL PHYSICALLY FIT TO CONTEST AT 75?

Twenty days after swearing-in, precisely 17 June 2015, Mr Buhari told Nigerians resident in South Africa, after taking part in the 25th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Johannesburg, that his performance will be limited by old age.

“I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do,” Mr Buhari said.

Despite his advancement in age however, Mr Buhari gave assurance that his administration would make a difference.

If Mr Buhari wins the presidential election in 2019, he will be sworn in at the age of 75 and is expected to serve till he is 79.

The possibility of a smooth sail of another four year administration is, however, under serious doubt due to his health condition.

Mr Buhari has embarked on at least three medical vacations abroad.

The first was between February 5, 2016 when he embarked on a six-day vacation to the United Kingdom.

Four months after, on June 6, 2016, he embarked on another 10-day vacation to attend to what the presidency described as “persistent ear infection.”

When he embarked on another medical vacation on May 7 2017, many thought it would be for days like others but the president did not return until after 104 days.

Even after his return, he worked from home. An aide claimed that rats infested his office.

Many believd that should Mr Buhari win a re-election, Nigerians may again have to brace up for a president that would spend several months abroad for treatment.

With this latest move, Mr Buhari may have toed the path of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.

After initially agreeing to serve one term, Mr Jonathan backed out of the agreement to seek re-election in 2015.

The details was courtesy of a book, “Against the Run of play: How an incumbent President was defeated in Nigeria,” written by Segun Adeniyi, Chairman, ThisDay Board of Editors.

Mr Jonathan admitted that there was indeed a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that he was going to do just one term and leave office but had to change his mind because “… You can make a political promise and change your mind, so long as it is within the law.”

The ex-President added, “I had made a proposition for a single term of seven years. That was the context in which I spoke in Addis Ababa that if the idea was accepted, I would not run again.

“It was not in the context of a second term of four years.

“Of course, at that period, the issue of one term was brought several times at different meetings and some people took it upon themselves to pledge on my behalf but I never said I was going to spend only one term… the question was always usually randomly asked and I never made any such commitment to anybody.”


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